Russian nationals among unauthorized migrants crossing into Lithuania from Belarus
There are Russian nationals among the foreign citizens attempting to make illegal crossings into Lithuania from Belarus, Lithuania’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mantas Adomėnas told the radio station Ekho Moskvy during an interview on Tuesday, August 3.
“We had a dialogue with a representative of the Russian Federation because [among the unauthorized migrants] there are Russian citizens who cross this border. We will return them too,” he said.
Adomėnas didn’t not specify how many Russian nationals have illegally entered Lithuania via Belarus.
Since the start of the year, Lithuanian border guards have detained more than 4,000 unauthorized migrants. By comparison, less than 100 were detained in all of 2020. According to Adomėnas, two thirds of those detained are Iraqi nationals. The deputy foreign minister also said that there are video recordings confirming that Belarusian border guards are escorting asylum seekers to the border.
On Tuesday night, Lithuanian border guards began turning around unauthorized migrants attempting to enter the country from Belarus and redirecting them to border crossings where they could seek asylum legally. The country turned away about 180 arrivals on Tuesday.
Lithuania has witnessed a sharp increase in illegal border crossings from Belarus in 2021. In June, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) said that Minsk would not prevent migrants from transiting to the European Union, claiming that European countries had “unleashed a hybrid war” against Belarus. In July, Lithuania announced a state of emergency due to the influx of migrants and the government decided to construct a new wall along the border with Belarus.